The Impact on from the Obergefell v. Hodges Ruling
On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, legalising same-sex marriage across the United States of America. The case began with two individuals, James Obergefell, and John Arthur, who filed a lawsuit challenging the state of Ohio’s refusal to recognise same-sex marriages on death certificates. The Minnesota Supreme Court had previously decided in the case of Baker v. Nelson that “construing a marriage statute to restrict marriage licences to persons of the opposite sex “does not offend” the U.S. Constitution.” Decided on June 26, 2015, Obergefell overturned Baker, and required states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognise same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions.
This ruling was a hugely significant milestone in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and has had a profound impact on the community. Obergefell v. Hodges emerged as a culmination of decades of legal battles and social activism seeking to secure equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community and has since led to international action too. Prior to this ruling, same-sex marriage was only legally recognised in a limited number of states in the United States, leaving many couples without the ability to marry or receive the same legal protection and benefits as married couples.
Countries like the Netherlands took an early stand on LGBTQ+ rights, where on December 21, 2000 they signed into law the first same-sex marriage bill in the world - effective since 1 April 2001; and similarly, the Canadian government ruled that it must legally recognise same-sex marriage, effective on 01 May, 2003. However, the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling certainly helped to pave the path for other countries to quickly follow suit in adapting their laws to recognise same-sex rights. It played a vital role in shifting public opinion and fostering greater acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals and relationships, and encouraging them to continue fighting for their rights and challenging discriminatory laws and practices. With countries like Australia, Denmark, and Mexico recognising same-sex marriage in the years since the Obegefell v. Hodges ruling.
While Obergefell v. Hodges represented a victory for the LGBTQ+ community, challenges and inequalities persist. Obergefell remains a contested decision, with two current US Supreme Court Justices writing that Obergefell was wrongly decided, and infringes on religious liberty, raising concern that rights cases could be opened again. As many of you would be aware, discrimination also continues to impact the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals in various ways, including with housing, employment, and healthcare. Furthermore, transgender rights especially remain an ongoing issue not just in the US, but globally, that require advocacy and protection.
Obergefell v. Hodges stands as a historic milestone in the pursuit of LGBTQ+ equality, though. And this ruling has since had a deep impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals when providing legal recognition. It has also served as a catalyst for progress on a global scale, inspiring activists and influencing legal developments in other countries, and should be seen by members of our community as a point of Pride.